Come to California and its universities, transhumanism is a current of thought that is based on the advances in computer technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology and neuroscience to imagine a different future to the man and his kind, a man became hybridizes with the machine whose lives would be extended and abilities tenfold.
A future humanoid
Transhumanism aspires by all biotechnological means to become more intelligent, more mobile, faster, more beautiful, more resistant. His trademark is rallying Humanity + or H +. This school of thought aims in a few decades to bring to life the man to 150 years, or even make it immortal. It has to protect the pathogens, cure all diseases and protect the effects of aging with a lot of biocompatible systems.
A future case
More worryingly, transhumanism wants to prepare the transition to post-humans (Hayles, 1999), of cybernetic organisms genetically modified succeeding each other in our species.
A leader no limit
Scientific, academic and American entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil (2007) provides that from 2029 artificial intelligence equal that of the entire human species. Since 2045, he predicted a merger of man with an artificial intelligence, which will allow him to increase his intelligence a billion times. An immortal cyborg destiny for him is a culmination. Darth Vader is not far away.
This is no longer science fiction
Who has no health application on their mobile phone? Who has never breakouts blood tests? Who has not stored its health data on a microchip? Which has no x-ray of his body? Who has not left a digital footprint on a social network able to combine individual information? Who has never interested in measuring physical activity connected with an object? Who never did an Internet search on a health product? Who does not have a digital picture of him? Who has not ever seen a doctor entering your test results on a computer? Voluntarily or not, directly or indirectly, we accumulate personal data in the BigData which when aggregated, filtered, sorted say a lot about our health, our preferences and our behaviors. These data will feed billions of future algorithms that calculate the chances of recovery, the best treatment options (ratio benefit / risk) and even more profitable (cost / effectiveness). The digital revolution makes possible what was only science fiction 10 years ago.
The story does not end there. It’s not only computers and algorithms which have progressed so quickly. Biology and technology too (De Rosnay and Butterfly, 2010). In a few decades we will know our genome and can consider therapeutic solutions and prevent diseases by changing our transgenic offspring. The implantation of stem cells renew our damaged cells. Autografts our own laboratory cultured cells replace our failing tissues. Nanotechnology will free the molecules directly on the right targets. The surgeons will be robots. Irradiation systems will be absolutely accurate. Micromachines made by a 3D printer using biocompatible materials replace organs. Embedded systems artificial intelligence will help us think faster, respond earlier to avoid accidents. The prostheses will be controlled by our brain. Systems monitoring our actions will prevent us from danger. The screenings will be generalized disease at early stages so that they may be cured before the appearance of any sign. Our doctor can ask for help to specialists and supercomputers living at the other end of a world gone village. Adjustments of our living spaces and our vehicles we will protect and toxic pathogens. Robots will be for us the most risky actions.
All these biotechnologies applied to health arrive, and many others. The Future of Health is today. Everything becomes possible. Are we less human? Will we still be the same people?
Ethics do not stop progress
Ethics committees shall ensure to protect us from the worst excesses. But between drift and visionary innovation, the border is difficult to draw. What can be against ethics across a generation, is less clear on many. With some historical perspective (Dachez, 2005), one can observe that what could be unethical for a generation has become commonplace in the next. What we did not tell you on blood transfusion, birth control pills, face transplants, in vitro fertilization, the pacemaker … What do not we say today on the use of stem cells, on Babies drugs on transcranial stimulation on eugenic excesses of assisted reproduction on molecular medicine … ethics does not stop progress, she framed it regulates.
The regulations no longer
A democratic country can prevent health abuses by law and regulation. But what banned in one country is not necessarily in another. Who has not heard about stem cell transplantation into the spinal cord of paraplegic patients in China while the majority of nations refuse to do on insufficient evidence in animals and humans? Who has not heard of storing umbilical cord or wisdom teeth in Switzerland for personal stem cells can be used for therapeutic purposes one day? Honestly, who would refuse to circumvent the laws of his country to save his child if he had the means? The boundaries do not stop scientists from health and anti-aging, much less medical tourists ready for anything.
The man rose: Outdated man?
We gained 30 years of life expectancy between 1950 and 2000, as much as in a millennium for the previous 30. Why not continue this exponential rate? Nothing seems more impossible by transhumanists. After the conquest of the West, after the exploration of the deep sea, after conquering the highest peaks, after the great polar expeditions, after traveling in space, after the moon landings, now is the time to accomplish the wildest dream of man, immortality. Some philosophers must be turning in their graves …
The knowledge gained in the treatment of diseases now being used unscrupulously to extend human capabilities. A new man comes, the man increased. Understanding the mechanisms of organ degeneration now applies to healthy men to regenerate constantly. Everything can be biomédicaliser (Clarke et al., 2010). Finally, why not make death a simple disease to cure (Lawrence, 2011)? All hopes are then enabled. It is climbing. A transhumanist provides that man will live to 150 years by a fifty years (Lawrence, 2011). Another table in 1,000 years (Grey, 2007).
The scientific and technical advances make possible the hope of a life without sickness and without deleterious effects of aging. And if this quest was futile? And if it was nothing other than a marketing ploy?
Health has become a marketing argument
Try a trivial analogy to illustrate the point. Driven by any kind of lobby, most doctors do confine their role to “repair” they become “trainers”. Professional athletes and amateurs were perfect guinea pigs to test and optimize their products doping doses. New customers (forget here the term patients) join them. They flock by the thousands. Those who want to be 20 years old forever. Those who want to look like a character “seen on TV”. Those who want to be on TV. Those who want to do more than the competition. Those who want to give every chance of social success to their offspring.
Health and eternal youth have become excellent marketing arguments to convince investors to go on this promising market and consumer buying health products or anti-aging. Health is priceless. New industrial which was not the art (Telecom, IT, food processing, automotive, equipment manufacturers) plunge into the habits and upset. Then all the supermarket shelves are getting into. Thousands of products are supposed to be beneficial to health, yoghurt wrist watch and passing through the scales, connected and slimming garment. Internet too. The network has become in recent years a huge showcase of health products popularized by video testimonials of satisfied users.
Alas, many innovations will prove to be gadgets, systems obsolete within months of dressing, hazardous products for health. Unless clinical research uncovers the deceptions?
A new impetus to clinical research
If health authorities and governments have sufficient courage and skill to impose transhumanists innovations independent clinical research and quality, the movement does not have to be totally repudiated. These serious clinical research is essential to make a balance between efficient and inefficient between the beneficial and risky, between the useful and the futile. The industrial challenges will be enormous. The various pressures as well.
Science without conscience is but the ruin of the soul. We leave here science to get into metaphysics and philosophy. Each of getting his idea of transhumanism.
An optimistic position will focus on the term “humanism”. It applaud transhumanists to make health the heart of concern for researchers and engineers rather than the floor on innovations tragic for humanity and the planet as the development of new weapons of war and intensive solutions for agriculture.
A pessimistic position will focus on the term “trans”. Become a cyborg can lead to rugged individualism at the end of emotions at the end of human relations, the eradication of reproduction, eugenics breaking the bonds of society. Gradually as it becomes dependent on the machine to operate, it is inherently weakened. Some of us can not live without their smartphone.
Whatever our vision, transhumanism (re)raises the fundamental questions of the place of human beings on earth and its relation to the environment in the future.
Position of Blog en Sante
Transhumanist or not, progress will not stop either. All countries have public and private research institutions. They communicate. They capture innovations and mechanistic discoveries of others at the speed of light. The measurement technology, analysis and intervention shorten time-to-market. Preventive and therapeutic innovations in non-drug interventions will arrive by the thousands. We must learn to make choices.
True to its charter, the Health Blog in think this is intervention research that these choices must be made. The citizen needs to know whether a particular INM is effective and safe. The Blog will continue to select and comment on the most serious clinical studies:
– Design of the least biased research protocol possible
– Declaration of the Protocol to the official authorities,
– Evaluation by an ethics committee,
– Reporting relationships and conflicts of interest of researchers,
– Expertise of the results by an independent committee,
– Publication in reputable scientific and medical journals,
– Delivery of additional data to the publication,
– Rights replicate the results to verify the scope.
The Blog en Sante does not sell anything, does not promote anything. It just reports of human intervention studies results to make sense of things between true and false, between effective and ineffective between the useful and the superficial. It encourages reading source documents.
Blog comments in Health Studies with the highest ethical and methodological standard to bring the best level of evidence of effectiveness innovations in non-drug interventions. It encourages the reader to consult the source documents.
What it means for Patients
The transhumanist wave upsets our ideas on health and aging. Many innovations will be gadgets and false hopes. Hopefully the authorities require rigorous and independent research to distinguish right from wrong.
What it means for Health Professionals
Transhumanism removes the intellectual barriers and gives absolute confidence to researchers and engineers working in the health and the fight against aging. It will bring many innovations. Some gadgets that will result and false hopes. Hopefully the authorities require rigorous and independent research to distinguish right from wrong.
What it means for Researchers
The transhumanist wave is a real investment accelerator in the health sector and the fight against the effects of aging. Hopefully the authorities keep enough distance and ethics not to destroy human beings, especially the most vulnerable, and maybe one day the human race. Hopefully they continue to rely on a clinical research quality.
What it means for Policymakers
The transhumanist wave will bring many innovations in health and the fight against the effects of aging. Many innovations that will gadgets and false hopes. National and international authorities will have to combine to require methodologically rigorous clinical research ethically favorable to man and politically independent.
To reference this Blog en Sante © article.
Ninot G (2014). Definition of transhumanism. Blog en Santé, L33.
© Copyright 2014 Grégory Ninot. All rights reserved.